University of North Dakota


University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND
Completion date
October 2020

First impressions matter, especially to high school students contemplating the next four years of their lives. That is why the reconstruction of University Avenue focused on improving circulation, pedestrian safety, lighting and transit throughout the campus corridor. In partnership with the City of Grand Forks, the University completed a $13 million renovation of this one-mile stretch of University Avenue through the heart of campus. 

Prior to improvements, prospective students visiting the University of North Dakota encountered a wide, bleak, four-lane road that was difficult to maneuver. RDG's design converted this unimpressive entrance road into a prized asset for the campus and community. Three key motivators drove the design process of this complete streets project: improve safety, establish a front door for the campus and ensure a maintained interest and durable structure during winter months. A family of furnishings for the complete street was developed based on creating a cohesive, celebratory and unique campus environment. The design focused heavily on creating long views along the corridor. Special care was taken to keep sidewalks aligned and consistently wide enough to allow four people to walk side by side. Plantings, monuments, fencing, supplemental trees and lighting were spaced to accent the rhythm of the long views. These considerations collectively encourage students to walk to crosswalks instead of cutting across traffic. 

The light columns are a pinnacle example of collaboration and showcase many disciplines of RDG. Our landscape architects, graphic designers, artists, and lighting designers worked together with the Client and community members to create a meaningful project.
Lighted columns and plantings with banner signage and bike storage.
The columns create a beautiful gateway to welcome prospective students, current students, alumni and Grand Forks residents.
The design team conceptualized light columns, representing a college on campus or icon of UND. The landscape architects worked with an art studio and graphic designers to finalize the columns.
Honor Award — Design (Built)
ASLA Central States
Award of Excellence — Design (Built)
ASLA Nebraska Dakotas Chapter
Award of Excellence in Design (Built)
ASLA Nebraska Dakotas Chapter